Facing a serious decline in state lottery revenues, Gov. Parris N. Glendening said yesterday that he will propose spending $2 million more to advertise Maryland's gambling games next year.
The advertising boost is needed to rekindle interest in what has become an important revenue source for the state government, Glendening said.
"We will do whatever is essential to try to recapture that lost revenue," the governor said at a State House briefing for reporters.
The effort to generate more lottery revenue comes as Glendening is strongly resisting efforts to legalize other kinds of gambling in the state, such as casinos and slot machines.
Asked about the possible contradiction, Glendening said the state government has come to depend on lottery revenue.
"Do we have some gambling activities in terms of the lottery and keno and all? Of course we do. But I worry about a major expansion of gambling," he said.
The lottery agency is spending $11.7 million on advertising in the current budget year, which will end June 30. Last year, the agency spent $10.9 million.
Lottery revenues were 10 percent lower from July through November than in the same period last year. And the state Board of Revenue Estimates projected last month that the lottery would bring in $49 million less than expected this year.
The lottery is the state government's third-largest source of general-fund revenues, behind income taxes and sales taxes. It was originally expected to contribute $460 million to the $14.8 billion budget this fiscal year.
Worried about the drop in revenue, some key legislators have urged Glendening in recent months to boost lottery advertising
"I think a $2 million increase in advertising is a reasonable investment in trying to really stop the bleeding that's taking place in lottery revenues," said Del. Howard P. Rawlings, a Baltimore Democrat who is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.
"We are steadily losing revenue, and we want to cut taxes."
Glendening and some legislative leaders will be pushing for a reduction in the state personal income tax rate during the 90-day General Assembly session that begins next week.
Lottery officials pointed to several reasons for this year's revenue decline.
One of them was that the agency deliberately held off on advertising and marketing last summer as it braced for a complicated conversion to a new computer system.
The computers, supplied by Automated Wagering International of Atlanta, initially broke down frequently and operated sluggishly, frustrating store owners and players.
In addition, sales of the Big Game, a new multistate lottery that began in August, were disappointing.
Glendening said he would include the proposed $2 million increase in advertising in the budget he submits to the legislature this month.
Pub Date: 1/03/97